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US construction spending tumbles on weak home building

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US construction spending unexpectedly fell in March as a sharp decline in homebuilding led to the biggest drop in investment in private construction projects in more than seven years.

[WASHINGTON] US construction spending unexpectedly fell in March as a sharp decline in homebuilding led to the biggest drop in investment in private construction projects in more than seven years.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday construction spending tumbled 1.7 per cent. February data was revised to show construction spending increasing 1.0 per cent instead of the previously reported 0.1 per cent gain.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending accelerating 0.5 per cent in March. Construction spending rose 3.6 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

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In March, spending on private construction projects declined 2.1 per cent. That was the largest fall since January 2011 and followed a 1.2 per cent increase in February. Outlays on private residential projects plunged 3.5 percent, the biggest drop since April 2009, after advancing 1.2 per cent in February.

Spending on both single and multifamily housing projects fell in March.

Spending on nonresidential structures slipped 0.4 percent in March after surging 1.2 per cent in the prior month.

Investment in public construction projects was unchanged last month after edging up 0.1 per cent in February. Spending on federal government construction projects jumped 2.2 per cent to the highest level since September 2011. That followed a 0.5 per cent rise in February.

State and local government construction outlays fell 0.3 per cent after being unchanged in February. 

REUTERS